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Thread: Lake Turkana

  1. #1
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    Default Lake Turkana

    I know it's a long shot, but it doesn't hurt to ask: is anyone here planning to travel to/near Lake Turkana and Marsabit at the end of January 2023?

    We planned to go there, but after exchanging some emails with WW, the resident Kenya expert here, I'm having some second thoughts about that part of the trip. Mainly the security issues. Traveling in a company with at least one more vehicle would probably feel much safer. So, anyone?
    Last edited by ortelius; 2022/10/22 at 12:40 PM.
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    For the sake of clarity, here is part of my email exchanges with Ortelius. The major factor is the critical on-going drought in northern Kenya (and the Horn of Africa) which has ramifications.

    “Turkana is an alluring destination, but, as you say, it has its challenges. If it were me, I would concentrate completely on Turkana and leave the other places out of the planning equation.


    However, I am concerned about the critical on-going drought in northern Kenya and the ramifications that has. I am also concerned about your planned route. Yes, I have done that route a number of times (well, only been over the Chalbi once), but we know Kenya and were driving our own vehicle.


    So, my recommendation for a route is that you go on the new Lake Turkana Wind Power road which was built/rebuilt from Laisamis to near South Horr. That route will be in the “safer” category and is the route that Andrew and Jenny took. Then once you are in Loiyangalani or Sibiloi National Park, you take advice from the police/the mission/KWS officers as to the safety and viability of the Chalbi desert route to Marsabit. As you will have read in Caldriver’s blog, there have been on-going problems in Marsabit County and there was (don’t know if there still is)* a curfew in Marsabit town and perhaps the wider Marsabit county. The Chalbi desert is not to be taken lightly particularly if there has been any rain. By taking the LTWPP road to Turkana, if the Chalbi is not considered viable or safe, then you can go back the same way. I would not recommend tackling the Chalbi desert on your way to Turkana - better on the way back if it’s a viable route at the time. You will then be able to actually get to Turkana and see the Jade Sea even if you have to return the way you had come.


    I would also not recommend the Maralal-South Horr route particularly during critical drought conditions. It has always had more than its fair share of banditry even in good times. When we drove down from Ethiopia in 2013, we chose to take a police escort from Baragoi to Maralal as there had been a number of incidents on that bit of the track up and through the mountains. It is also a very rough road.”

    * PS: the curfew in Marsabit county is still in place.



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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    My 2c worth! It would be a huge pity not to visit Lake Turkana and surrounds. I have no current experience but the advice from W.W. seems as sound as ever.

    If you can get a second vehicle to join you good and well, but if need be go for it on your own!
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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Are your dates fixed?

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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Hi: a question - how are things on the western shore? Would it make sense to head for Eliye Springs instead of the eastern shore? The road from Kainuk to Lodwar has no doubt not improved, however if the security concerns are less then it's an option perhaps.

    When we drove this route, some years ago, we did have to join a convoy from Lokichar north (although not south on return...!).

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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Quote Originally Posted by alannymarce View Post
    Hi: a question - how are things on the western shore? Would it make sense to head for Eliye Springs instead of the eastern shore? The road from Kainuk to Lodwar has no doubt not improved, however if the security concerns are less then it's an option perhaps.

    When we drove this route, some years ago, we did have to join a convoy from Lokichar north (although not south on return...!).
    A vast swathe of East Africa and the Horn of Africa are experiencing what has been described as the worst drought in 40 years. It is biblical in its consequences with famine affecting an estimated 36 million across the region - and an estimated 4.2 million people in Kenya. It is yet another La Niña year.

    The western side of Lake Turkana (the Eliye Springs side) has always had more than its fair share of security concerns (perhaps for different reasons) and during this time of drought there have been a number of inter-tribal incidents in what is Turkana county.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2022/10/25 at 05:40 PM.

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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Quote Originally Posted by Piet Faure View Post
    Are your dates fixed?
    Yes, quite fixed, as I've already bought air tickets and reserved the car. We'll be in Kenya the last week of January and the first week of February.

    @alannymarce,
    As WW already mentioned, I don't think the western side is much safer. And somehow I have fixed my mind on the southeastern side of Turkana, possibly in combination with the Chalib desert. Anyhow, we'll make a plan by then, depending on how the situation in those regions evolves. If we skip Turkana this time, hopefully, we'll be able to visit it some other time. And there's no shortage of other alluring destinations in Kenya, so I'm not afraid we will be bored on this trip, even without Turkana.
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Ortelius,

    I understand about your dates, pity, as I would be keen nearer the end of next year.

    Could you advise on car hire please.

    Cape Town to Kenya is quite far. I am investigating the fly in/rent option.

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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    No Piet, drive there man🙂. Don't you have all the time in the world?

    As you know exploring the countries along the route has its own rewards.

    There is little more rewarding than exploring East Africa under your own steam and, as in your case, in your own well-kitted vehicle.
    Stanley Weakley.
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    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  14. #10
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    Yes, quite fixed, as I've already bought air tickets and reserved the car. We'll be in Kenya the last week of January and the first week of February.

    @alannymarce,
    As WW already mentioned, I don't think the western side is much safer. And somehow I have fixed my mind on the southeastern side of Turkana, possibly in combination with the Chalib desert. Anyhow, we'll make a plan by then, depending on how the situation in those regions evolves. If we skip Turkana this time, hopefully, we'll be able to visit it some other time. And there's no shortage of other alluring destinations in Kenya, so I'm not afraid we will be bored on this trip, even without Turkana.
    What are your overall ambitions for this trip? As you know the good thing is that if you do plan Turkana for now and then you find the security situation when you arrive is not conducive to Turkana it is easy to come up with an alternative plan without bookings.

    Re: the route we took - if you are pressed for time you with an early start you could drive from Archer's post, or thereabouts, all the way to Loyangalani, in a single day, no problem. You'd of course miss out on the Ndoto mountains and other possible wild camping in the Northern Rangelands. I'm sure you've seen WW's post on how to arrange this (you need a ranger). We did not take it, but there is a junction just NW from Lasamu that cuts directly to Loyangalani (1.94492, 37.11634), cutting out South Horr. Personally I liked the South Horr deviation, but I don't know what I passed up. This is shown clearly on GaiaGPS (which does not require a subscription to use their web version) but as of a few months ago wasn't shown on google, bing and was on mapcarta's satellite imaging but not their roads.

    Fantastic that you already have your next Africa trip on the books. I am jealous. I think it'll be a while (we must earn back at least *some* credibility at work) before our next trip.
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Stan,

    As with anything in life, always consider all your options!

    You are correct, the drive is the journey.

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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    I will send you a DM Ortelius.

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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    @Piet, we are renting Hilux wirh RTT from Roadtrip Africa. This will be our fifth rental with them (so far twice in Uganda and twice in Kenya). Price/performnce they are probably close to the top among East African 4x4 rentals. But don't expect anything even close to the quality of South African rented vehicles and equipment. For example: the fridge is there, but no dual battery system, so you can run it only while the engine is running.
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    @CalDriver,
    Yes, that is a good thing with Kenya: you actually don't need to book any campsites in advance. So, if the situation in Turkana region will not be in our favor, we have plenty of other options.

    For now, our backup plans include:
    a) Samburu+Bufdalo Springs+Shaba tripple, followed by Ol Pejeta and Aberdares
    b) southern parks (Amboseli, both Tsavos)
    c) Mara, with Rift lakes and Aberdares
    d) any other combo

    So, I'm not worried that we can't find an adequate replacement. But still, if at all possible, Turkana would be my first choice. Yes, I've read your blog about your visit to Turkana many times, and we'll be actually exactly following your route, if we go there.

    Best wishes on adapting to "nomal" life to both of you - I'm sure you'll be back in Africa even sooner than you are currently planning.
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    There have been some recent incidences north of Isiolo. tourists were robbed in Bufallo springs two weekends back and a number of cars have been held up along the Marsabit road. If the food security issue is not at least somehow addressed security will remain tricky...
    Now, I am NOT saying this to discourage any visits but just to spread caution, the press of an incident will be worse for us ultimately than no incident.
    Turkana is something else and I imagine missing it will be extremely disappointing. As it is We was going up beginning FEB but as the dates get closer the situation gets more tense. On a general scale I have frequented the Marsabit and baragoi routes numerous times with only one incident, which was quite quickly resolved. Many of these trips, even across the Chalbi, while solo.

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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    @CalDriver,
    Yes, that is a good thing with Kenya: you actually don't need to book any campsites in advance. So, if the situation in Turkana region will not be in our favor, we have plenty of other options.

    For now, our backup plans include:
    a) Samburu+Bufdalo Springs+Shaba tripple, followed by Ol Pejeta and Aberdares
    b) southern parks (Amboseli, both Tsavos)
    c) Mara, with Rift lakes and Aberdares
    d) any other combo

    So, I'm not worried that we can't find an adequate replacement. But still, if at all possible, Turkana would be my first choice. Yes, I've read your blog about your visit to Turkana many times, and we'll be actually exactly following your route, if we go there.

    Best wishes on adapting to "nomal" life to both of you - I'm sure you'll be back in Africa even sooner than you are currently planning.
    All around your options are excellent of course! Note that Andrew Nightingale, owner of Kembu Cottages, goes up to Turkana for fishing a couple times a year. He'd be an excellent person to check in with re: security closer to your trip. And in our opinion a great before/after stop when headed "up country" (is that the right term?).

    Now that we have been to Turkana I think I would approach a second visit a bit differently, not that I'm unhappy with what we did. It was all a bit overwhelming the first time around and doing more seemed daunting. Someday we will go back and I'm also keen on visiting Eliye Springs and South Turkana Nature Reserve, security conditions permitting.

    If you do go to Aberdare I personally regret not arranging the Dragon's Tooth hike, which seems amazing, and not organizing going fishing, even though I know nothing of fishing. On our next visit, sometime, I plan to try to stay at Gukururu campsite, a stunning setting. I can't recall if that is a special campsite or not, I think not, but usage might be discouraged due to the rough approach and remote setting.
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  23. #17
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    Default Re: Lake Turkana

    Quote Originally Posted by CalDriver View Post
    All around your options are excellent of course! Note that Andrew Nightingale, owner of Kembu Cottages, goes up to Turkana for fishing a couple times a year. He'd be an excellent person to check in with re: security closer to your trip. And in our opinion a great before/after stop when headed "up country" (is that the right term?).

    Now that we have been to Turkana I think I would approach a second visit a bit differently, not that I'm unhappy with what we did. It was all a bit overwhelming the first time around and doing more seemed daunting. Someday we will go back and I'm also keen on visiting Eliye Springs and South Turkana Nature Reserve, security conditions permitting.

    If you do go to Aberdare I personally regret not arranging the Dragon's Tooth hike, which seems amazing, and not organizing going fishing, even though I know nothing of fishing. On our next visit, sometime, I plan to try to stay at Gukururu campsite, a stunning setting. I can't recall if that is a special campsite or not, I think not, but usage might be discouraged due to the rough approach and remote setting.

    We just did the dragons tooth a few weekends back. Camping at 3400m and hiking to 4000m was quite the experience. The scenery here is absolutely breathtaking. If you will hike do consider it is basically an endless bog, the water table doing its work is incredible. Its mostly recovered from the devastating fire a year back and is very lush.

    We have been frequenting aberdares recently and I think there are some important things to note:

    Dragons teeth is accessed from the north end pf the park (Shamata gate) or from the north east (rhino gate). if leaving Nairobi i would recommend accessing through Shamata and exiting through rhino gate. this way you can cut through naromoru and be in nanyuki/ol Pejeta quite rapidly.

    Gukururu, Chania river and falls, Reedbuck, fishing cottages and most if not all good fishing are all towards the southern part of the park. One cannot access this area from dragons teeth without first exiting the park. The road network here is much more developed and there are a more "sites". Lower into the salient there is good gaming. The roads on the Shamata/dragons teeth/satima end serve mainly to get hikers to the trails.

    The best way to camp in dragons teeth/Shamata, we find, is to drive up to the twin rocks (cant miss is). The public campsite is not really designed for vehicle based camping. Drive up to the satima/dragons teeth trail parking. You will see a road with a sign saying satima/twin rock. almost all the hikers transport wont drive into this road as they prefer to offload hikers in the parking. As you drive up this road look out for a track branching right towards the twin rocks. Its a seldom used track. it will come out into a great opening. there is some flat ground on the western edge of this opening. This will be wild camping no facilities.

    If you are accessing the southern end of the aberdares from Nairobi I would recommend using the Mutubio gate. A much more relaxed drive where you will access from the west of the park.

    A picture of the twin rock/dragons teeth camp below:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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